El Centro's World Civilization Comparative Religions Chart

Note: The Chart is incomplete at this point. The construction is continuing.

To the Index for This Page: Hindism, Maya, and Aztec
These religions reflect the choices of the students and is not meant to suggest other religions are not equally important in world history.
Other Pages:

Inca, Vikings, Wicca
Buddhism, Polynesia, Creek (American Indians)
Christianity, Islam, Voodoo

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Index for This Page: Hinduism, Maya, and Aztec
Creation Beliefs
Beliefs about the Afterlife
What is God? Who are the Gods?
Sacred Texts
Rituals and Festivals
El Centro's Aztec & Inca Links Page


Hinduism Maya Aztec
In the beginning (don't they all start this way?), this universe was nothing but the self (Purusha) in the firm of a man. It looked around and saw that there was nothing but itself, whereupon its first shout was, "It is I!" From this, the concept of "I" arose. Then he was afriad. But, he consider: "Since there is no one here buy myself, what is there to fear?" The fear departed. However, he still lacked delight and desired a second. He was exactly as large as a man and woman embracing. This self then divided itself in two parts; and with that there was male and female. They then embraced, and from that the human race arose. She, however, reflected, "How can he unite with me, who am produced from himself? Well, then, let me hide!" So, she became a cow, then he a bull and united with her; and from that cattle arose. She became a mare, he a stallion; she an ass, he a donkey and united with her; and from that solid-hoofed animals arose. Thus they poured forth all pairing things, down to the ants. Then they said "I, actually, am creation; for I have poured forth." (Sanskrit srstih: "that which is poured forth.") Anyone understanding this becomes, truly, himself a creator in this creation. (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 1.4.1-5) This creation myth is only one of about 200 variations. GH The first fully formed men to be created were called the Wizard of the Fatal Laugh, the Wizard of the Night, the Careless and the Black Wizard. They were endowed with intelligence and they knew everything in the world. When they looked they would see everything that was around them, and they constantly contemplated the arch of the sky and the round face of the earth. Then the creator said: "You know everything now...what are we going to do with them? That their sight may only reach what is near them, that they may only see a small part of the face of the earth. Are they not by their nature simple creatures, products of our hands? Do they also have to be gods?" - The Popol-Vuh of the Mayas-Quiche (AS The mother of the Aztec creation story was called "Coatlique," the Lady of the Skirt of Snakes. She was created in the image of the unknown, decorated with skulls, snakes, and lacerated hands. There are no cracks in her body and she is a perfect monolith (a totality of intensity and self-containment, yet her features were square and decapitated). Coatlique was first impregnated by an obsidian knife and gave birth to Coyolxanuhqui, goddess of the moon, and to a group of male offspring, who became the stars. Then one day Coatlique found a ball of feathers, which she tucked into her bosom. When she looked for it later, it was gone, at which time she realized that she was again pregnant. Her children, the moon and stars did not believe her story. Ashamed of their mother, they resolved to kill her. A goddess could only give birth once, to the orginal litter of divinity and no more. During the time that they were plotting her demise, Coatlicue gave birth to the fiery god of war, Huitzilopochtli. With the help of a fire serpent, he destroyed his brothers and sister, murdering them in a rage. He beheaded Coyolxauhque and threw her body into a deep gorge in a mountain, where it lies dismembered forever. The natural cosmos of the Indians was born of catastrophe. The heavens literally crumbled to pieces. The earth mother fell and was fertilized, while her children were torn apart by fratricide and then scattered and disjoined throughout the universe. AS


Hinduism Maya Aztec
The soul never dies. When the body dies, the soul is reborn. This continuous process of rebirth is called reincarnation. The soul may return as an animal or as a human, but Hindu doctrine is not clear on this point. The law of karma states that every action influences the soul that will be born in the next reincarnation. If a person lives an evil life, the soul will be born into a lower state, even a worm. A person's reincarnation continues until he or she achieves spiritial perfection. The soul then enters a new level of existence from which it neer returns. YT

Hinduism accepts the concept of reincarnation, the idea that at the end of each life, the individual is born again in another existence in order to carry on his or her evolutionary path. Hindus see the individual as composed of two elements. One is the personality self and the other is the part of the indivicual which is Brahman. ER

What is God? Who are the gods?

Hinduism Maya Aztec
Although people associate Hinduism with a multiplicy of Gods, in fact there is only one supreme Absolute, so absolute that we coul not even use the term God to depict it. This absolute is called Brahman and everything in life, whether living or not comes from Brahman. Every creature, living or not comes from Brahman. Every creature, plant, individual, stone, tree - everything in existence has its source as Brahman. This means that Brahman is in all things and each thing is a part of Brahman; this is called pantheism. ER Aztecs worshipped hundreds of gods and goddesses, each of whom ruled one or more human activities or aspects or nature. The people had many agricultural gods because their culture was based heavily on farming. They also included natural elements and ancestor-heroes. These gods included:
  • Centeoltl, the corn god
  • Coatlicue, the Serpent Skirt
  • Ehecatl, the god of wind
  • Huehueteotl, "the old, old deity," was one of the names of the cult of fire, among the oldest in Mesoamerica. The maintenance of fires in the temples was a principal priestly duty, and the renewal of fire was identified with the renewal of time itself.
  • Huitzilopochtli, the war/sun god and special guardian of Tenochtitlan, a deified warrior-hero, Mexica-Aztec patron par excellence. His temple on the Main Pyramid was the focus of fearsome sacrifices of prisoners captured by Aztec warriors. Victims heads were strung as trophies on a great rack, the Tzompantli.
  • Mictlantecuhtle, god of the dead
  • Ometecuhtlti and his wife Omecihuatl, created all life in the world
  • Quetzalcoatl, the god of civilization and learning or "quetzal (feather) serpent," had dozens of associations. It was the name of a deity, a royal title, the name of a legendary priest-ruler, a title of high priestly office. But its most fundamental significance as a natural force is symoblized by the sculpture of a coiled plumed serpent rising from a base whose underside is carved with the symbols of the earth deity and Tlaloc. The image of the serpent rising from the earth and bearing water on its tail is explained in the Nahuatl language by a description of Quetzalcoatl in terms of the rise of a powerful thunderstorm sweeping down, with wind raising dust before bringing rain. Strangely, this deity does not seem to have been natural from America. All of its descriptions coincide in that it was of "white skin, with hair on the face and beautiful emerald eyes."
  • Tezcatlipoca, god of night and sorcery, "Smoking Mirror" (obsidian), characterized as the most powerful, supreme deity, was associated with the notion of destiny. His cult was particularly identified with royalty, for Tezcatlipoca was the object of the lengthy and reverent prayers in rites of kingship.
  • Tlaloc, the rain deity, belonged to another most memorable and universal cult of ancient Mexico. The name may be Aztec, but the idea of a storm god especially identified with mountaintop shrines and life-giving rain was certainly as old as Teotihuacan. The primary temple of this major deity was located atop Mt. Tlaloc, where human victims were sacrificed to fertilize water-rocks within the sacred enclosure. In Tenochtitlan another Tlaloc temple shared the platform atop the dual Main Pyramid, a symbolic mountain.
  • Tonatiuh, the sun, was perceived as a primary source of life whose special devotees were the warriors. The warriors were charged with the mission to provide the sun with sacrificial victims. A special altar to the sun was used for sacrifices in coronation rites, a fact that signifies the importance of the deity. The east-west path of the sun determined the principal ritual axis in the design of Aztec cities.
  • Tonantzin, "honored grandmother," was among the many names of the female earth-deity.
  • Tezcatlipoca, a all-powerful god
  • Xilonen, "young maize ear," and Chicomecoatl, "seven serpent," were principal deities of maize representing the chief staple of Mesoamerican peoples.
  • Xipe Totec, the god of springtime and regrowth
  • Xiuhtecuhtle, the fire god

Sacred Texts

Hinduism Maya Aztec
There are two kinds of sacred writings in Hinduism, with the Scruti being the oldest and most sacred. The teachings they left for the Hindus are believed to be universal laws, unchangeable and eternal. Scruti is divided into two main parts, the Vedas and the Upanishads.ER

Rituals & Festivals

Hinduism Maya Aztec
Hinduism considers temples as buildings dedicated to divinities. Its followers worship as individuals, not as congregations. Most Hindu temples have many shrines, each of which is devoted to a divinity. Each temple also has one principal shrine devoted to a single important god or goddess. The shrines portray the divinities in sculptured images. Hindus treat these images as living human beings. Everyday, for example, priests wash and dress the images and bring them food. Hindus do not consider this idol worship. They believe the divinities are actually present in the images. Hindu temples hold annual festivals commemorating events in the lies of the divinities. Huge crowds go there for these festivals. They come to worship, to pray for assistance, and to enjoy the pagaentry of the event. Millions of Hindus visit temples along the Ganges River, the most sacred river in India. Hindu temples hold annual festivals commemorating events in the lives of the divinities. YT

Students Who Created This Chart
Yolanda Tidwell
Anna Sanchez
Eddie Reyes
Garth Hill